Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Tale Begins...

The First Church of Jerusalem arrived by a supreme act of God.  The Middleberry Church had a much more tumultuous birth, or should I say rebirth.  Seems that long ago the church grew to great numbers in a nice part of town.  A split over doctrine and a natural disaster had the attendance nearing zero many years later.  Through the good graces of some other bodies of believers; Middleberry Church was reborn.  The graces was not money so much as people.  The gift of congregants from GracePoint Church revitalized the sleepy little church that was now in the hub of the town.

Just a word about these congregants should suffice.  Middleberry is significantly different from the rest of the town; especially the upper-middle class GracePoint area.  Middleberry is a transient lower class neighborhood miles away from the GracePoint attender's doorsteps.  

GracePoint people try to avoid the Middleberry neighborhood six days of the week but relish the fact that they are helping them by making the 20 minute commute in for 3 hours on Sunday morning (convincing themselves that they will raise the standard of living and the spirituality of the community, simply by proximity).  Cultural differences and standard of living was overcame by the church in the book of Acts; but it was only done by dropping the cultural bias and speaking to people on their terms (Acts 17 style).  Sadly enough GracePoint congregants brought their style; their money; their time frames; and their expectations and traditions to Middleberry; establishing what many on the outside would call "GracePoint North."

So this immigration from GracePoint provided the congregants for Middleberry's revival.  The last question became who would lead them?  GracePoint provided the answer.
Pastor Keith had been on staff for years.  The people loved him (and it didn't hurt that the new lead pastor at GracePoint had fallen out of favor with many of the older congregants).  Pastor Keith needed some new digs and he relished the idea that he would get to finally lead a Church.   He took the job, his talents, his desire for preaching and his 200 congregants to Middleberry to lead.

The parishoners of Middleberry (formerly GracePoint) placed their trust (and continue to place their trust) in Pastor Keith and have set out to change a culture radically different from theirs, with the knowledge they think they already posses; the traditions they wish to keep intact; and a chip on their shoulder towards GracePoint and their new lead pastor...just like the First Church of Jerusalem!

Okay so maybe the First Church of Jerusalem wasn't at all like that.  You can't fault Middleberry for wanting to help.  The benefit of the doubt is given that the Middleberry congregation felt like they were ready for this challenge and with God all things are possible.  Hindsight would hopefully help the church realize its oversimplification of this process and its lack of vision in this enterprise.  Middleberry felt like they knew what is best for that community...they would soon find out they were mistaken.

1 comment:

  1. Read Acts 2.42-47; 4.32-36; 6.1-7; 11.19-29; and 13.1-3 to see what the Early Church embraced as early disciplines and actions. Christ was preached, encouragement and sustenance were given, prayer was practiced, etc., God was at the center of their community. Acts 5.12-13 shows clearly that people were drawn to this kind of community (not pushed or driven from their old community).

    Just some thoughts!